Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the freemen

Estimated number qualified to vote:


Number of voters:

886 in 18262


9,900 (1821); 10,282 (1831)3


20 June 1826JOHN SOMERS COCKS, (Visct. Eastnor)666
 Richard Blakemore430
30 July 1830JOHN SOMERS COCKS, (Visct. Eastnor) 
29 Apr. 1831JOHN SOMERS COCKS, (Visct. Eastnor) 

Main Article

The brick-built cathedral city and county town of Hereford on the north bank of the River Wye, to which the radical John Thelwall retreated in 1798, had a strong libertarian tradition counterbalanced by the Tory-Anglican influence of the chapter clergy.4 The city, or liberties, encompassed six parishes, parts of two others, and extended ‘far beyond the mass of the town’, which in 1831 was described as ‘a place neither advancing nor receding’, with respectable shops and a well-clad population. The glove trade languished but the Wye navigation and the railway to Pontrilas and thence Abergavenny (1829) safeguarded Hereford’s status as a regional entrepot; cider production was increasing and the district was said to ‘feed its own population very easily’.5 Patronage was vested in the chief steward, by charter ‘one illustrious and discreet man’ appointed for life, empowered to appoint a deputy (who acted as the city’s recorder) ‘during pleasure’. The 14 guilds had lapsed and local power was concentrated in the parishes and in the corporation, a self-perpetuating body comprising a mayor or returning officer, six life aldermen and a common council of 31, selected from among the freemen, and who in turn elected the mayor annually, generally by rotation, from among themselves.6 The parliamentary franchise was exclusive to the freemen, who obtained their privilege through birth, marriage, apprenticeship, gift or purchase (£30, 1819-32). Creations under the last two categories, where no residence qualification applied, had first to be approved by the common council, so facilitating partisan control. Admissions tended to be made in batches in anticipation of a poll: 1818, 306; 1819, 42; 1820, 14; 1821, 17; 1822, 9; 1823, 16; 1824, 37; 1825, 30; 1826, 186; 1827, 10; 1828, 8; 1829, 12; 1830, 11; 1831, 21. Between 1800 and 1821, 1,029 were admitted and the corporation raised £5,321 in fines. Of 1,110 freemen registered in 1831, 465 resided in the city, 215 in Herefordshire and 430 ‘without the county’.7

In a severe contest in 1818, the freemen, their number swelled by partisan out-voters and recent creations financed by the high steward, the 2nd Baron Somers of Eastnor Castle, a Grenvillite and recent adherent to Lord Liverpool’s Tory administration, signalled an end to the Whig domination of the representation perpetuated since 1790 by the 11th duke of Norfolk (d. 1815) as high steward and his kinsmen by marriage, the Scudamores of Holme Lacy, by ousting Richard Scudamore, the London-based trustee of Kentchurch, and returning Somers’s heir John Somers Cocks with the veteran Whig, Thomas Powell Symonds of Pengethley.8 Despite Somers’s support and their newfound domination of the corporation through the election to it of the attorney William Pateshall, a younger brother of the squire of Allenmore, the marquess of Bute’s agent Thomas Bird, the physician and banker John Bleeck Lye, the wine merchant Edward Bulmer, the merchant apothecary John Gwillym, the surgeons James Eyre and Samuel Hughes, the banker and attorney John Garrett, the proctor Richard Johnson and the Rev. William Pulling, who together formed a powerful caucus, the Tories failed to follow up their success when Symonds’s death forced a by-election in September 1819, and Scudamore, backed by a coalition of county Whigs and the city’s London freemen, came in unopposed.9 Somers remained confident of securing both seats for the Tories, but, like Norfolk previously, he conceded that the county and city representation had to be controlled in tandem. His inauspicious attempt to offer the dowager duchess of Norfolk’s agent, the Welsh judge William Wingfield†, in 1818 and 1819 had only revealed the wisdom of Norfolk’s practice of fielding resident county gentlemen, who though personally beholden to him, could be passed off as independents. Of these Somers, as a Tory supporter of Catholic relief and recent appointee as county lord lieutenant, had few he could rely on without jeopardizing the county, where one and one representation prevailed.10

Hereford marked the death of George III in January 1820 with church services, shop closures, and the usual addresses; but, being ‘unannounced’, the proclamation, 2 Feb., was sparsely attended.11 Cocks and Scudamore, who was in poor health, had issued canvassing addresses promising adherence to their political principles and attention to local interests, 31 Jan. Nothing came of plans to put forward the Tory veteran and former county Member John Matthews of Belmont, who had canvassed the city in 1819, and proposed the address of condolence and congratulation on 19 Feb., and the Whigs, whose accounts from the 1818 and 1819 elections were ‘not finally closed’, chose not to spend or ‘risk a battle’.12 On the hustings, Scudamore was proposed by the deputy steward and lifelong Whig, Robert Phillips of Longworth, the senior partner in the Hereford City and County Bank, and seconded by his friend, the London attorney John Palmer. He spoke only to confirm his opposition votes and apologize for his recent inactivity through ‘severe indisposition’, but Phillips pressed the case for parliamentary reform. Cocks’s sponsors Matthews and Archdeacon John Lilly stressed his achievement in moving the 1819 address, when his ‘sincere regard for the liberties of the people ... excited the praises of even the leaders of the opposition’, and left Cocks to counter the Whig charge that ministers had become ‘over powerful’, to lament the prevalence of distress and to express qualified support for franchise transfers where corruption was proven. After the chairing the Tories as usual dined at the Hotel, and the Whigs at the Green Dragon.13

Arson attacks at the college, in which the cathedral organist, Hayter, and his brother were implicated, preoccupied the city and were the subject of public meetings and subscriptions in April 1820, and party activity was minimal until November, when the case against Queen Caroline, which Somers voted to proceed with, was abandoned.14 On the 13th the city was illuminated and the prosecution witnesses Dumont and Rastelli burnt in effigy. A requisition for a meeting to congratulate the queen, ‘signed by three magistrates, seven common councillors, three bankers and two clergymen’, was delivered to and rejected by the mayor William Pateshall the following day.15 With John Palmer as chairman, certain ‘magistrates, freemen and inhabitants’ met at the Hotel, 20 Nov., carried a resolution censuring Pateshall’s conduct, and adopted a congratulatory address to the ‘king, to your Majesty and the nation at large’, expressing ‘concern and indignation’ at the Lords proceedings, the evidence used, and treatment of witnesses. The proposers were two corporators, Phillips and the late Member’s brother Dr. William Symonds. Signatures were collected at Allen the bookseller’s and it was forwarded to Scudamore, Cocks, and ‘as many resident freemen in the city of London as can conveniently attend’ for presentation.16 The meeting convened for 11 Dec. by Pateshall to adopt a loyal address to the king was so well attended that the venue was switched from the council chamber to the town hall, where the founder of the Pitt Club, Sir Hungerford Hoskyns of Harewood, seconded by Hughes, proposed an address criticizing radical agitators who threatened to overthrow the institutions of the state. A Whig amendment censuring ministers for instituting proceedings against the queen and urging the king to prevent their resumption was rejected outright without being formally put to the meeting. In the ensuing commotion, Somers, who had inadvertently gone to the council room and arrived late, was detained and hissed at by the mob and the loyal address was taken to the Hotel and Watkins and Wright the booksellers’ for signature. On the 15th the common council adopted it with a resolution deprecating the popular clamour and calling on the king to defend the constitution in church and state.17 The cathedral clergy addressed the king denouncing factionalism, ‘calumny, sophistry, infidelity and misrepresentation’ and praying that ‘deceived Englishmen ... [be restored] to their characteristic good sense and true religion’, 22 Dec.18 In the old town hall that day, the Whigs, backed by their county Member, Robert Price of Foxley, and Edward Bolton Clive of Whitfield, adopted an address lauding the constitution and deploring the ministry’s conduct and the queen’s treatment, ‘in conformity with the sentiments so decidedly expressed by a large majority’ on 11 Dec. 1820. Its 600 signatories included ‘two Members, 18 magistrates, 203 freemen and three bankers’. Cocks, as requested, presented it with Scudamore after writing to the Hereford Journal denouncing its sentiments.19 He adopted the style Lord Eastnor on his father’s elevation to an earldom at the coronation in July 1821, which Hereford celebrated with a subscription dinner for the poor, organized by the corporation and the masonic lodge.20 Eastnor, who had made Reigate Priory his home, paying only occasional visits to Herefordshire, now raised his profile by addressing the Pitt Club, 30 Aug., and presided at the Agricultural Society dinner, 19 Oct. 1821.21 Hereford had no Fox Club, and responding, the Whig gentry, led by Clive, Price, Edward Foley* and David Ricardo*, co-operated with colleagues in neighbouring Worcestershire and Monmouthshire to organize a highly publicized dinner and presentation of a tankard and hogshead of cider to Joseph Hume*, 7 Dec. 1821, and had their speeches criticizing the Liverpool ministry’s economic policy and calling for parliamentary reform and action to combat agricultural distress printed.22 Somers appointed a Tory, Edward Poole of Home End, as his deputy following Phillips’s death, 1 Feb. 1822 and Hereford adopted no distress or reform petitions that year.23 The inhabitants petitioned the Commons for abolition of the death penalty in inferior cases, 4 June, and a public meeting in December 1822 pressed for the provision of gas lighting.24 At the instigation of bankers of both parties, supported by Hughes and the Holme Lacy agent and clerk of the peace Thomas Bird, petitions for repeal of the Insolvent Debtors Act were dispatched to both Houses in 1823.25

A grand dinner at the Hotel, 24 Jan. 1823, marked the installation as a freeman of the wealthy anti-Catholic Tory industrialist and new owner of ‘The Leys’, Richard Blakemore†, now approved as a prospective candidate by Herefordshire Association and the Pitt Club.26 With the Kentchurch estate in administration and Scudamore no longer active in the House, on 5 Nov. the Hereford Journal carried a notice urging the freemen not to promise Blakemore their votes, as Scudamore, though indisposed, remained their Member, and another would stand in his place should he retire through ill health at the dissolution. Blakemore responded, 5 Nov., with an address confirming his commitment to ‘church and state’ politics and to Hereford, and his ‘fixed intention’ of standing ‘at the next dissolution or before’. On the 13th Clive, who had chaired Scudamore’s 1818 and 1819 committees and was negotiating to secure his endorsement, announced his candidature in the event of a vacancy. In December, with squibs attacking ‘The Black-A-Moor’ of ‘The Lies’ and Clive’s radicalism abounding, Blakemore, Clive and Eastnor canvassed the city in person, Scudamore formally announced his intended retirement, 1 Dec., and endorsed Clive as his successor, 8 Dec. Addressing Blakemore, 1 Dec. 1823, ‘A Freeman’ noted that the representation had

successively baffled the best exertions of Sir John Cotterell, Mr. Wetherell, Mr. Wingfield and Dr. Matthews and which cost Lord Eastnor, with all the aid of official connection and private worth, no less a sum than £12,000, with an annual payment of £500 besides. Your agents here assert that you are a dealer in IRON; without their assistance I should rather have supposed you a dealer in BRASS.27

During the protracted campaign, transport and improvement schemes were revived, public gardens planned, and Eastnor and Cotterell took charge of the Hereford gas light bill, which received royal assent, 28 May 1824.28 The position of Sir George Cornewall† of Moccas Court (and La Teste, Grenada) as a planter, left the Whig aristocracy vulnerable on the slavery question, and Hereford’s petition against colonial slavery, proposed by William Symonds and Blakemore at a public meeting, 13 Feb. 1824, received strong corporation support. They petitioned again in 1826.29 During Bulmer’s mayoralty (1823-4), Hereford’s innholders and victuallers petitioned against the beer bill, 17 May 1824, and the city led the countywide campaign for repeal of the cider duty, for which petitions were left for signature at the Sun Tavern and presented by Cotterell.30 The leather workers vainly tried to revive their guild and, assisted by the Whig banker and currier Thomas Jay of Derndale, they petitioned the Commons against the combination laws, 25 Mar., and the hides bill, 31 May 1824.31 Clive’s success at the dinner for Hereford’s London freemen at the White Lion in Oxford Street, 21 June, prompted Blakemore’s ‘friends’ to circulate reports that he was retiring as he could not bear the cost of a contest; but the Whigs retaliated in kind, and in his address of 2 July an angry Blakemore confirmed his candidature and intention to poll to the last.32 Cornewall chaired a public dinner to Clive at the Green Dragon, 30 Aug., when Price, Edward Moulton Barrett of Hope End, William Foley, the radical horticulturist Thomas Andrew Knight of Downtown Castle, Samuel Peploe of Garston and Sir Thomas Winnington* rallied for him and he projected himself as a moderate reformer and lifelong supporter of Catholic relief, who, though bitterly opposed to Lord Liverpool’s ministry, had found much to endorse in Canning’s foreign policy and Huskisson’s qualified support for free trade.33 Eastnor now resumed his canvass, and The Hereford Independent, a pro-Catholic, anti-corporation broadsheet printed by the booksellers Ellidge and Wright and financed through the Hereford City and County Bank, was launched, 2 Oct.

to guard the public from apathy on the one hand and from delusions of undue excitement on the other. From the sturdy charlatanry of COBBETT and from the slippery sophistry of CANNING; from the discord and anarchy into which some fiery and turbulent spirits would hurry us, and from the murky stagnation of intellect and of feeling over which the lurid spirit of DESPOTISM loves to brood.34

Awards of freedom by deed of gift to the locally important Tories William Chute Hayton of Wisteson, William Hanson, the Rev. Robert Pearce and the rector of Hampton, William Cooke, in February, had been matched by purchases of the same by the Whigs, the Rev. Thomas Powell Symonds, the Rev. William Foley, the London attorney William Bowman, and Thomas Partridge of Monmouth; and in June 1824 the liberal Edmund Lechmere Charlton†, the town clerk of Monmouth, Thomas Addams, Williams and the watchmaker David Mortimer were admitted. However, on 9 Nov. the corporation refused, by 16-3, to permit the wealthy radicals Thomas Andrew Knight of Downton, the Hereford merchant Benjamin Lloyd, and Walter Wilkins* to purchase their freedom. Grasping the opportunity, the Whigs held a public dinner at the Green Dragon in their honour at 12s. a head, 29 Dec. 1824. Price presided, Radnorshire and Monmouth Whigs rallied to the cause, and a resolution of disapprobation with the corporation was carried unanimously.35 A wag observed:

          Hard is the fate of a rejected knight,
          Here as I crav’d the freedom at their hand,
          Some silly Tories drove me from their sight,
          Not choosing to increase Clive’s doughty band.36

In a letter to Edmund Burnam Pateshall of Allensmore, 20 Jan. 1825, Eastnor observed: ‘I hope my friends at Hereford will give up squibbling and squabbling for the next twelvemonth, as there [does] not now appear to be any intention or prospect of a dissolution for that time’.37 The issue of peddling the city’s freedom was raised again, albeit to little effect, in a petition received by the Commons, 27 June 1825, from the Gloucestershire squire Walter Honeywood Yate of Bromsberrow, who had a Herefordshire estate at Bishop’s Frome and claimed his freedom ‘by birthright’. Calling on the House to intervene, he alleged that the corporation

on selling their freedom of the said city, unjustly and arbitrarily, ad libitum ... in repugnance to the letter, spirit, and equity of their charter, greatly within a few years augmented the price of purchase money ... advancing the same to two- thirds more than was its original worth ... and that in allowing persons to purchase their freedom, the corporation acts on a gross system of partiality and favouritism, to the exclusion or proscription of others desirous of purchasing that privilege.38

Anti-Catholic petitioning had hitherto been exclusive to the clergy, but, encouraged by Blakemore and his supporters, the city and inhabitants sent one against the relief bill to both Houses in April 1825.39

The failure of the London banks of Pole and Company, Everett and Company and Williams and Company in December 1825 forced Garrett and Son to suspend payment, and Bleeck Lye, with bipartisan support, chaired a public meeting on 17 Dec. to restore confidence.40 The ‘Tory’ Hereford Old Bank of Matthews, Hollaway and Company and the ‘Whig’ Hereford City and County Bank of Bodenham, Jay, Cusack and Company agreed to honour Garrett’s notes. However, liabilities incurred on the dissolution of their partnerships with Phillips (at least £20,000), 30 Apr. 1821, Garrett, 19 Apr. 1822, and Clive’s agent the attorney John James, 19 June 1822, had left the Whig bankers, who only in 1824 had been cleared of malpractice in the bankruptcy of Woakes and Harris, particularly vulnerable, giving credence to rumours that Clive, who issued a denial, 23 Jan. 1826, was withdrawing his candidature.41 The safety of the Hereford Old Bank, now Holloway, Cooke and Carless, was also questioned following John Matthews’s death that month. The corporation and leading men of both parties co-operated in public throughout, holding scrutinies and open meetings and offering a 50-sovereign reward for information on the ‘propagators of malicious rumours’; but as Price remarked to Jay after reviewing his bank’s position at a private meeting with Clive, Cornewall, Peploe and Thomas Hampton Symons of Mynde Park, 7 Mar., ‘these are not times for co-operation’. Both banks suspended payment in March 1826, depriving Hereford of ‘two of its main sources of prosperity’.42 Hereford Old Bank was found to be over £67,000 in credit, Hereford City and County Bank, £7,459, and both resumed trading gradually in late April, but production of the Hereford Independent ceased. It returned for a brief period in October 1827.43 The Hereford railway bill, which Clive had promoted, received royal assent, 26 May 1826.44

Eastnor, who was abroad for health reasons and not expected back before the dissolution, announced his resignation from Nice, 1 May 1826.45 As Somers had intended, handbills were immediately issued urging voters to ‘suspend all measures for the present’, and a requisition of support for him was prepared and printed together with a bipartisan list of 375 freemen promising him votes. When reproduced in the Hereford Journal of 7 June, it had 417 signatories. On 22 May James Somers Cocks* announced that his brother would stand in absentia.46 Writing to Lord Milton* that day, a nervous Price observed, ‘the iron master is spending a great deal of money, and one knows that the golden arguments are very persuasive’.47 The parties intensified their efforts, especially among the out-voters, who arrived steadily from 8 June. At council meetings, 7-12 June, 186 freemen were admitted, making the number of potential first-time voters 331 in an electorate of approximately 960.48 As James Somers Cocks, having been ordained into the church, was ineligible, their uncle Colonel Philip James Cocks* arrived on 8 June to deputize for Eastnor. He was nominated by Sir Edwyn Francis Stanhope of Longworth, the anti-Catholic coheir to Holme Lacy, which came into his possession in January 1827, when he also took the name of Scudamore. Poole seconded. Both praised Eastnor personally but said little of his politics, which were pro-Catholic. Clive was proposed by Cornewall ‘in place of Scudamore’, who arrived later to speak for him, and seconded by the attorney and former mayor John Griffiths. They stressed his ‘inflexible independence’ and long residence and criticized Blakemore as a stranger, making this rather than his anti-Catholicism their main objection to him. As at party dinners, Clive projected himself as a pro-Canning liberal, a supporter of emancipation, but not the Catholic church, of parliamentary reform, but not annual parliaments, and of free trade, but with adequate protection for shipping and agriculture. He also claimed that he was standing to stop Hereford being degraded to the state of Leominster, where John Arkwright of Hampton Court and other local squires had been passed over as candidates in preference to rich strangers. Blakemore’s sponsors Hughes and the merchant Richard Parkinson proclaimed the ‘high churchman’ and ‘friend of all in distress’ as the corporation’s choice and claimed that he was no stranger as the family had long been resident near Ross. Confirming this, Blakemore expressed pride in his Englishness, the established church and his fortune acquired through ‘commerce and hard work’, and confidence in the ministry. Clive and Blakemore won the show of hands, and Bleeck Lye demanded a poll for Eastnor, who led from the first day.49 The struggle was between Clive and Blakemore, whose supporters rallied on the 18th to put him ahead by a single vote (Eastnor 631, Blakemore 434, Clive 433), whereupon The Times observed: ‘Voters are seen smoking their pipes with a bottle of wine before them, and it is currently stated that all the voters cost either side from £12 to £18 per man’.50 Clive overtook Blakemore on the 19th; and with 886 (89 per cent of the electorate) polled, he and Eastnor were declared elected, 20 June 1826. As Blakemore had received only three votes since the 18th, while Eastnor and Clive had received 35 and 19 respectively in this period, he demanded a scrutiny, which William Pateshall, as assessor and town clerk, refused. Contrasting the gentlemanly conduct of the candidates with the scurrilous diatribes of the squib writers, the Times commented that ‘never in living memory was an election so warmly contested and scarcely ever conducted with so little party spirit’.51

According to Davies’s edition of the pollbook, the tally stood at Eastnor 666, Clive 456, Blakemore 430, and of 1,542 votes recorded, 769 were cast by residents and 773 by out-voters: 222 freemen, 39 residents and 181 out-voters (25 per cent of those polled) plumped, and 666, made up of 365 residents and 301 out-voters (75 per cent) split their votes. Eastnor had clear majorities from the residents (Eastnor 357, Blakemore 229, Clive 183) and the out-voters (Eastnor 299, Clive 273, Blakemore 201); and Clive defeated Blakemore through a combination of out-voter support, particularly from London and its suburbs, and votes shared with Eastnor. Clive received 125 plumpers (27 per cent of his total), 21 from residents, 104 from out-voters; Blakemore 68 (16 per cent), 12 from residents, 56 from out-voters, and Eastnor 27 (four per cent) six from residents, 21 from out-voters. Eastnor and Blakemore received 335 split votes (50 and 78 per cent of their respective totals), Eastnor and Clive 304 (46 and 67 per cent), and Clive and Blakemore 27 (six per cent): 203 residents and 132 out-voters voted Eastnor-Blakemore, 148 and 156 Eastnor-Clive. Corporation and Pitt Club support for Blakemore and Eastnor is confirmed, but not a single Herefordshire squire plumped for Blakemore. Lechmere Charlton and Scudamore plumped for Clive, while Moulton Barrett, Cornewall, Kedgwin Hoskins*, Winnington, Price and his father voted for Clive and Eastnor (as did Clive). Thirty-six clergymen cast a vote for Eastnor, 26 for Blakemore and 12 for Clive. Some late switching is evident. Of 397 listed in late May as pro-Eastnor whose votes can be traced, 370 voted for him (14 plumpers, 218 Eastnor-Blakemore, 138 Eastnor-Clive); 241, including seven plumpers, cast a vote for Blakemore, and 158, including 14 plumpers, voted for Clive.52

The anti-Catholics issued an address thanking Blakemore for his services to their cause and held a dinner in his honour, 7 July 1826, at which the chairman, Hoskyns, backed by Bleeck Lye and Parkinson, hailed his ‘virtual victory’ and attributed his defeat and the setback to the anti-Catholic cause to their failure to anticipate that Eastnor’s committee, with whom they had co-operated until his return was assured, would not reciprocate to bring in Blakemore instead of Clive.53 In October 1826 the Pitt Club resolved to act against ‘those who had from private friendship espoused the cause of Mr. Clive at the late election, or withheld their support from Mr. Blakemore’, which prompted Somers and others to resign from and renounce it. Its secretary, the surgeon James Eyre, rejected Somers’s request to publish ‘all their correspondence’.54 ‘The landowners, clergy, farmers, tradesmen and inhabitants of the city of Hereford’ joined the agriculturists in petitioning the Commons against amending the corn laws, 27 Feb. 1827, and that winter the corporation, Clive, and the county Members addressed public meetings and lobbied to keep the daily mail coach to London, as they did again when it was threatened in January 1830.55 Both Houses received protectionist petitions in 1828 from the glovers, concerned at the downturn in their trade, and from the brewers and licensed victuallers seeking repeal of the 1827 Malt Act and the cider duties.56 The brewers petitioned against the 1830 sale of beer bill, which the corporation and inhabitants opposed in a strongly worded petition received by the Commons, 16 Mar., and which prayed that Parliament would not ‘inflict on the city of Hereford the nuisance of a free trade in beer and cider’. The latter, they stated, had

proved highly injurious to the morals of the people, leading to scenes of drunkenness and debauchery: its ill effects are more clearly visible in the profanation of the Sabbath during the hours of divine service when the respectable publican has closed his house.57

Petitioning against slavery and the death penalty for non-violent crimes continued, and the physicians and surgeons petitioned for measures to facilitate anatomical study, 19 May 1828.58

Assisted by the mayor William Pulling and the cathedral chapter, the Pitt Club, now dominated by Blakemore, the Rev. Arthur Matthews and Scudamore Stanhope, maintained its high profile by holding an anti-Catholic meeting to adopt an address of support for Peel and the ministerial seceders, 25 May, and rallied again at the City Arms, 9 Oct. 1827. (The Times afterwards compared their conduct unfavourably with that of the Cheshire Whig Club.)59 Dissenters’ chapels petitioned in 1827 and 1828 for repeal of the Test Acts. Most of their petitions were presented and endorsed by Price, and Clive also supported repeal, but, as he informed the House, 18 Mar. 1828, Eastnor, who had returned from France the previous summer, sought additional security for the established church and a declaratory oath substituted for them. The city’s Catholics petitioned for and the clergy against relief in 1828.60 The Wellington ministry’s decision to concede emancipation brought further hostile petitions from the clergy, who left them at the diocesan clerk Theophilus Lane’s office for signature; and on 24 Feb. 1829 a public meeting dominated by the no Popery speeches of Blakemore and Scudamore Stanhope, who cited extracts from Peel’s previous anti-emancipation speeches, adopted a hostile petition which was forwarded to Cotterell and Lord Eldon for presentation. Cornewall and Price had spoken strongly in praise of Wellington and Peel, and a pro-emancipation petition was adopted separately and left at the attorney Frederick Bodenham’s office, where it received 250 signatures. The Independents now petitioned for Catholic relief, and the Wesleyan Methodists against it; but a late attempt to get up a county petition failed, 29 Mar. 1829, and its promoters had to be content with an address adopted by Hereford corporation behind closed doors, calling on the king to refuse the royal assent to the bill.61

An early canvass organized by Cornewall and the Whig bankers Hoskins and Thomas Cooke assisted Clive, and Eastnor lost no time in issuing his address and hurrying to Hereford directly William IV was proclaimed, 26 June 1830.62 Blakemore had promised to stand again, but his appointment as sheriff in March 1830 cast doubt on his candidature. The home office, to whom he had applied to be excused, informed him on 14 July that Peel could not interfere, but that he could apply to the privy council, where ‘several others similarly affected have failed’.63 Faring no better, he issued an address of thanks to the freemen, 15 July, and went to contest Wells. Seeking representation by an anti-Catholic and the spoils of a contest, 185 freemen signed a requisition to Scudamore Stanhope, 16 July, but, being already ‘pledged to support Eastnor and Blakemore’, he refused and talk of opposition faded.64 On the hustings, Clive, whose proposers Cornewall and Griffiths stressed his personal virtues, good attendance in Parliament and willingness to spend locally, said that there had also been ‘a disposition to procure a third man by some few of the London freemen who wished to send us down a fat citizen, but they soon abandoned the project, as an assurance sent them by the return of post ... showed its utter hopelessness.’ Despite his commitment in Parliament to the Whig opposition, Clive spoke highly of Wellington and Peel and claimed that he had no party bias, but would always support reform and retrenchment. While admitting that they had co-operated to oppose the beer bill and on local issues, he denied collusion with Eastnor and said that his preference for him over Blakemore in 1826 no longer applied as Blakemore had ceased to be a stranger. Eastnor’s sponsors Hughes and Armitage thanked his 1826 supporters, leaving him to express support for the ministry despite his misgivings that they could have done more to alleviate distress, and to confirm his political differences with Clive and the absence of any coalition between them. Eastnor’s friends dined at the Hotel and the Whigs at the Green Dragon.65 In August 1830, Somers presented the corporation to the duchess of Kent and Princess Victoria.66

The Commons received anti-slavery petitions from the ‘mayor, magistrates and most of the inhabitants’ 4 Nov., and 450 ‘female inhabitants of Hereford’ petitioned separately, 9 Nov. 1830.67 As expected, Eastnor voted with the Wellington ministry when they were brought down on the civil list, 15 Nov. Clive’s failure to vote caused concern, but he confirmed that he would have voted to bring them down (on reform) had he not been out of town visiting a sick relation.68 ‘In consequence of the general tranquillity around them’, and fearing that it might thereby be disturbed, Hereford ‘neglected’ to appoint special constables until the home office sent Frederick Havenden to the town, 15 Dec. 1830, when 200 were sworn in under the command of John Atree to deal with rural unrest.69 The city remained peaceful and, proclaiming their ‘loyalty to the throne, obedience to the laws and prosperity’, in January the ‘freemen and inhabitants’ adopted a petition for ‘full fair and free representation’, rigid economy in public expenditure, an end to sinecures, abolition of taxes pressing heavily on ‘small housekeepers and the labouring classes’ and ‘a just and satisfactory arrangement’ of tithes, which was left at the Grapes Tavern for signature and presented to the Commons by Clive, 11 Feb. 1831.70 A meeting at the guildhall, 28 Feb., sent an address of condolence to Somers on the death of his wife.71 Clive voted for and Eastnor against the Grey ministry’s reform bill and, after prevaricating, on 11 Apr. the common council resolved to petition both Houses against it ‘as far as it affected the corporation of Hereford’ and for retention of their rights as freemen.72 Plans to unseat Eastnor had been voiced publicly at a dinner to Lechmere Charlton, 2 Apr., and in anonymous letters to the press, but he refused to be swayed and with Somers’s approval, he, like the county Member Cotterell, voted to defeat the bill, 19 Apr. 1831.73 Led by Scudamore Stanhope and Poole, with whom Hoskyns and the Pateshalls co-operated, the Tory squires and the corporation rallied in support of Eastnor and Cotterell at a public meeting in Hereford, 23 Apr. 1831, and endorsed their conduct and candidature in a numerously signed declaration.74 It was rumoured that Clive and Eastnor colluded to ensure that the London freemen did not sponsor a reformer to oppose Eastnor, and certainly the Whig gentry, among them John Biddulph of Ledbury and his son Robert, both banking partners of Thomas Cocks, proved reluctant to move prematurely against Eastnor in the city despite his politics and concentrated on the county, where Cotterell’s retirement was announced the day after Eastnor and Clive were returned unopposed, sponsored respectively by Hughes and Scudamore Stanhope and Cornewall and Griffiths.75 Eastnor was refused a hearing, and Clive devoted part of his speech to denouncing a handbill warning the freemen of their imminent disfranchisement. The anti-slavery campaign and the city’s endeavours to have the 1830 Beer Retail Act amended, both the subjects of recent petitions, were also mentioned.76

Hereford’s first petition to the new Parliament, presented by Clive, 26 June 1831, was in support of the Beer Act, and a direct response to that of 18 Apr., ‘secretly got up by the alehouse keepers and as secretly carried by them from house to house through the city for signatures’. It countered the previous petition’s complaint that the law had had a demoralizing effect on the labouring classes as

a gross misrepresentation got up by none but persons directly or indirectly interested in the old alehouse monopoly in order to impress on the minds of the House an unfavourable opinion of the shops established under the new law ... [and urged the House] before they proceed to repeal a law so wise, so just and impartial, to give it a fair trial for a few years, and to well consider the benefits arising there from to the revenue and to the farmer, who, in consequence of greater demand for malt, readily obtains from 12 to 16s. per quarter more for barley, and yet the consumer of beer obtains a more wholesome beverage at two thirds the usual price.77

The Tories rallied at a dinner in honour of Cotterell, 28 July, and on 1 Aug. the corporation resolved to admit him to ‘all the free buck dinner days in future years’.78 Clive supported and Eastnor opposed the reintroduced reform bill, and Clive’s allusions to Hereford in his speech on 27 Aug., suggesting concessions (which he did not press to a division) to enable current common councillors to retain their voting rights and to increase the residence qualification for existing freemen from seven miles to ten was locally well received and removed doubt concerning the future role in Hereford of Cornewall, Cotterell, Price and others with estates slightly over the seven-mile limit.79 Colonel John Money of Much Marcle and Cornewall were the main speakers at the city reform meeting, 28 Sept., and over 1,000 signed their petition urging the Lords to pass the bill before it was presented, 3 Oct. Clive’s chaplain, the Herefordshire historian John Duncombe, had proposed a vote of thanks to Clive and the county Members for supporting the bill; the concessions broached by Clive were stressed and Cornewall praised. The Hereford coach had been renamed ‘The Reformer’, and Clive was loudly cheered when he left in it to vote for Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion following the bill’s defeat in the Lords.80 The corporation opposed it to the last and denounced it in an address to the king in May 1832 when a ministry headed by Wellington was in contemplation. Following its passage, which the populace marked with illuminations, 15 June 1832, they petitioned calling for the stamp duty on freeman admissions to be repealed.81

Petitioning against slavery, for protection for the glove trade and mitigation of the death penalty for non-violent crime had continued, and with borough reform, tithes and retrenchment, became campaign issues at the general election in December 1832.82 More than 600 of Hereford’s estimated 1,100 freemen lost their voting rights under the Reform Act, and most of the new registered electorate of 920 were £10 householders. The boundary commissioners’ recommendation that Castle Green be included ‘within in the liberties’ had been enacted.83 Clive, standing as a Liberal, proved unassailable despite a strong challenge by the Conservative Blakemore, for whom Jones Powell and Poole made way; and the Liberal Robert Biddulph, whose candidature was facilitated by Eastnor’s decision to come in for Reigate and championed in the newly founded Hereford Times, was returned with him.84 Knight was informed:

There is a perfect understanding between Ross, Ledbury and Hereford leading reformers. They do not agree to the notion of allowing a Tory to walk undisturbed over the course. The days have gone past when elections are got up at private coteries ... Many of the city electors are so venal, and there is such a determination on the part of Mr. Biddulph’s opponents to corrupt by means of money, that time is everything to them.85

Hereford was polled 13 times between 1832 and 1880 and returned at least one Liberal throughout. Conservative gains in 1837 and 1865 proved short-lived, but a Conservative topped the poll at the first three elections following the retirement of the last Clive family Member in 1871.

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. PP (1835), xxiii. 393.
  • 2. Ibid. (1831-2), xxxvi. 531.
  • 3. Ibid. xxviii. 388. The total for 1821 was described as ‘incomplete’.
  • 4. E.P. Thompson, ‘Hunting the Jacobin Fox’, P and P, cxlii (1994), 112-40.
  • 5. PP (1831-2), xxxviii. 356-7, 387; (1835), xxiii. 401.
  • 6. Ibid. (1835), xxiii. 387-90.
  • 7. Ibid. 393-4; (1831-2), xxxvi. 351-2.
  • 8. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 197-9.
  • 9. The Times, 24 Sept. 1819; NLW, Facs 746, Belmont Abbey mss 5, handbills, 1818-20; F. O’Gorman, Voters, Patrons, and Parties, 174, 350.
  • 10. Add. 38280, f. 12; HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 196-7; v. 636.
  • 11. Hereford Jnl. 2, 9, 23 Feb. 1820.
  • 12. Ibid. 2, 9, 16, 23 Feb.; Herefs. RO AS53, Clive to S. Brooks, 17 Mar. 1820.
  • 13. Hereford Jnl. 15 Mar. 1820.
  • 14. Ibid. 5, 12, 19 Apr. 1820.
  • 15. Ibid. 15 Nov. 1820.
  • 16. Ibid. 22 Nov.; The Times, 17, 21 Nov. 1820.
  • 17. Hereford Jnl. 6, 13, 20 Dec.; The Times, 1, 15, 16 Dec. 1820.
  • 18. Hereford Jnl. 27 Dec. 1820, 10 Jan.; London Gazette, 6 Jan. 1821.
  • 19. Hereford Jnl. 19, 27 Dec. 1820, 3, 10, 17, 24 Jan. 1821.
  • 20. Ibid. 18 July 1821.
  • 21. Ibid. 5 Sept., 24 Oct. 1821.
  • 22. Ibid. 12, 19 Dec.; The Times, 14 Dec., 1821 8 Jan. 1822; Belmont Abbey mss 5, handbills, 3 Oct., 19 Nov., 7 Dec. 1821.
  • 23. Hereford Jnl. 6 Feb., 6, 13 Mar. 1822.
  • 24. Ibid. 17 Apr., 25 Dec. 1822; CJ, lxxvii. 309, 316.
  • 25. Hereford Jnl. 5, 12, 19 Feb.; The Times, 21 Feb. 1823; CJ, lxxviii. 49; LJ, lv. 532.
  • 26. Hereford Jnl. 29 Jan., 14 May, 1, 8, 15 Oct. 1823.
  • 27. Herefs. RO F60/4; Herefs. RO, Pateshall mss A95/V/EB/443; Belmont Abbey mss 5, election squibs, 1823-4; Hereford Jnl. 19, 26 Nov. 3, 10 Dec.; The Times, 10 Dec. 1823.
  • 28. Hereford Jnl. 26 Nov., 31 Dec. 1823; CJ, lxxix. 46, 62, 129, 427.
  • 29. CJ, lxxix. 90; Hereford Jnl. 11, 18 Feb.; The Times, 13, 25 Feb. 1824, 11 Apr. 1826; LJ, lviii. 170.
  • 30. Hereford Jnl. 7 Jan.; The Times, 9 Mar., 18 May 1824; CJ, lxxix. 132, 375.
  • 31. CJ, lxxix. 211, 436; The Times, 26 Mar., 1 June 1824.
  • 32. The Times, 23 June; Hereford Jnl. 30 June, 7 July 1824.
  • 33. Hereford Jnl. 18 Aug., 1 Sept. 1824.
  • 34. Herfs. RO, Brydges of Tibberton mss K12/84; Hereford Independent, 2 Oct. 1824.
  • 35. Herefs. RO HLM/A8, Hereford common council minutes, 1822-35; Hereford Jnl. 3 Mar., 9 June, 17 Nov., 15 Dec.; Hereford Independent, 13 Nov., 11 Dec. 1824, 1 Jan. 1825.
  • 36. Clive mss, cited in S.J. Johnston, ‘Hereford City: Parl. Elections and Political Culture, 1818-1841’ (Manchester Univ. M.Phil. thesis, 1995), 120, but misattributed to 1830.
  • 37. Pateshall mss A95/V/EB/486.
  • 38. CJ, lxxx. 604; LJ, lvii. 591.
  • 39. Hereford Jnl. 28 Mar. 1821, 30 Apr. 1825; CJ, lxxvi. 211; lxxviii. 216; lxxx. 320-1.
  • 40. Hereford Jnl. 14, 21 Dec. 1825, 4, 11 Jan. 1826; Hereford Independent, 17, 24 Dec. 1825, 7 Jan. 1826; The Times, 30 Dec. 1825.
  • 41. London Gazette, 5 May 1821, 23 Apr., 25 June 1822; TNA C110/96 (i and ii), 97, bankers lic. and corresp. of T. Jay with C. Bodenham, sen. passim.; The Times, 16, 20, 24 Jan. 1824, 4 Apr. 1826; Hereford Jnl. 7 Jan. 1824, 25 Jan. 1826.
  • 42. TNA C110/97, corresp. of C. Bodenham, jun., with T. Jay, S. Peploe, R. Price, March 1826; Hereford Jnl. 1 Feb., 1, 15, 22, 29 Mar.; Hereford Independent, 25 Feb., 18 Mar. 1826.
  • 43. Hereford Jnl. 29 Mar., 5, 12, 19 Apr. 3 May, 28 June, 5 July; Hereford Independent, 1, 8, 15 Apr. 1826; London Gazette, 31 Aug. 1827.
  • 44. LJ, lviii. 381.
  • 45. Hereford Jnl. 17 May 1826.
  • 46. The Times, 19, 25, 31 May; Hereford Jnl. 24, 31 May 7 June 1826.
  • 47. Fitzwilliam mss 125/16.
  • 48. PP (1831-2), xxxvi. 531; Hereford Jnl. 7, 14 June; The Times, 9, 10 June 1826.
  • 49. Hereford Jnl. 14 June; Globe, 15 June; The Times, 16 June 1826.
  • 50. The Times, 19 June 1826.
  • 51. Ibid. 23, 26 June; Worcester Herald, 24 June 1826.
  • 52. Hereford City Poll ed. Davies (1826). Discrepancies exist between editions. Some give Eastnor 667 (26 plumpers, 297 Eastnor-Clive, 344 Eastnor-Blakemore); Clive 453 (127 plumpers, 297 Clive-Eastnor, 29 Clive-Blakemore); Blakemore 438 (65 plumpers, 344 Blakemore-Eastnor, 29 Blakemore-Clive).
  • 53. Hereford Jnl. 5, 12 July 1826.
  • 54. Ibid. 18, 25 Oct., 1, 15 Nov.; The Times, 28 Nov. 1826.
  • 55. Hereford Jnl. 27 Dec. 1826, 7 Feb., 24 Mar. 1827, 13, 20 Jan. 1830; CJ, lxxxii. 239.
  • 56. CJ, lxxxiii. 181; LJ, lx. 208, 589.
  • 57. CJ, lxxxv. 183, 500.
  • 58. Ibid. lxxxiii. 361; lxxxv. 342, 463; LJ, lx. 635; lxii. 772.
  • 59. Report of Public Meeting at Hereford; Hereford Jnl. 16, 23, 30 May, 6 June, 3 Oct; The Times, 29 May, 10-12 Oct. 1827.
  • 60. CJ, lxxxii. 527, 567; lxxxiii. 112, 264, 277; LJ, lx. 401.
  • 61. Hereford Jnl. 28 Jan., 18, 25 Feb.; The Times, 31 Mar., 8 Apr. 1829; CJ, lxxxiv. 72, 98, 114; LJ, lxi. 46, 109, 133, 141.
  • 62. Hereford Jnl. 30 June, 7, 14 July 1830.
  • 63. TNA HO43/38, p. 466.
  • 64. Hereford Jnl. 21, 28 July 1830.
  • 65. Ibid. 4 Aug. 1830.
  • 66. Hereford common council minutes; Hereford Jnl. 1 Sept. 1830.
  • 67. CJ, lxxxvi. 35, 48; Hereford Jnl. 8, 15 Nov. 1830.
  • 68. Hereford Jnl. 1 Dec. 1830.
  • 69. TNA HO40/27, letters from F. Havenden, 14-17 Dec. 1830.
  • 70. Hereford Jnl. 19 Jan. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 237; PP (1830-1), iii. 424.
  • 71. Hereford Jnl. 28 Feb. 1831.
  • 72. Herefs. RO, diaries of John Biddulph of Ledbury [Biddulph diary] G2/IV/5/59, 19 Mar.; Hereford Jnl. 23 Mar.; Hereford common council minutes; CJ. lxxxvi. 489; LJ, lxiii. 474; The Times, 15 Apr. 1831.
  • 73. Hereford Jnl. 30 Mar., 6, 13 Apr.; The Times, 11 Apr. 1831.
  • 74. Pateshall mss A95/V/EB/595; Hereford Jnl. 20, 27 Apr. 1831.
  • 75. Biddulph diary G2/IV/5/59, 20 Apr.-1 May; Pateshall mss A95/V/W/a/130, 23-30 Apr.; Hereford Jnl. 4 May 1831.
  • 76. CJ, lxxxvi. 500-1, 506; LJ, lxiii. 471, 474; Hereford Jnl. 30 Mar., 6 Apr., 4 May 1831.
  • 77. CJ, lxxxvi. 587-8.
  • 78. Hereford Jnl. 27 July, 3 Aug. 1831; Hereford common council minutes.
  • 79. Clive’s Whitfield estate was precisely seven miles from Hereford. Foley, Hoskyns, Jay, P. Jones, Maddy, Poole and Scudamore Stanhope resided within seven miles, the Biddulphs, Hoskyns and Somers beyond ten.
  • 80. Hereford Jnl. 28 Sept., 5, 12, 19 Oct. 1831; LJ, lxiii. 1036.
  • 81. Hereford Jnl. 23 Nov. 1831, 4 Jan., 6, 13, 20 June 1832; Hereford common council minutes.
  • 82. LJ, lxiv. 57, 251; CJ, lxxxvii. 302, 536; The Times, 9 July 1831; Hereford Jnl. 26 Oct. 1831, 8 Feb., 30 May, 6 June; Belmont Abbey mss 5, squibs and handbills, 1832.
  • 83. PP (1831-2), xxxviii. 387; (1835), xxiii. 393; D.J. Mitchell, ‘Hereford in the age of reform’, Trans. Woolhope Naturalists’ Field Club, xliv (1982-4), 93-96.
  • 84. Hereford Jnl. 20 June-29 Dec.; The Times, 14 Dec. 1832; Cardiff Pub. Lib. Bute Estate letterbks. iii. 71; Biddulph diary G2/IV/J/61, June 1832; 62, passim.
  • 85. Herefs. RO, Knight of Downton mss K74, bdle. 621.